Slay / by Brittney Morris.

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  • Additional Information
    • Publication Information:
      First Simon Pulse hardcover edition.
    • Abstract:
      Summary: An honors student at Jefferson Academy, seventeen-year-old Keira enjoys developing and playing Slay, a secret, multiplayer online role-playing game celebrating black culture, until the two worlds collide.
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Booklist Reviews 2019 July #1

*Starred Review* So often, Black gamer girls and Black girls in STEAM are overlooked. However, Morris unapologetically brings both identities front and center with her explosive debut. Seventeen-­year-old gamer Kiera Johnson finds that being Black leaves her largely ostracized from the larger gaming community. As a result, she ingeniously creates SLAY, her own online virtual reality game that becomes more than a hobby—it becomes a community for thousands of Black gamers to embody Nubian personae in a role-playing game. The game functions as Kiera's refuge from the racism and traumas of the outside world. But her precious, necessary safe space is threatened when a player is killed due to an in-game dispute. It creates a stir in the media and paints SLAY in a negative light. The game is stereotyped much like many Black people are; it's being called violent and criminal; and it's charged with being racist and exclusionary. Suddenly, Kiera is faced with the need to both protect her game and keep her identity as the developer secret. This excels at depicting everyday life for Black teens and the very specific struggles Black teens face. More than a novel, this is a conversation about safe spaces, why they're necessary for minorities, and why we should champion their right to exist without being branded exclusionary or racist. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2019 #6

"By day, I'm an honors student at Jefferson Academy. At night, I turn into the Nubian goddess most people know as Emerald." Seventeen-year-old narrator Kiera is not just a gamer; she is (secretly) the creator of the hugely popular multiplayer gaming community SLAY, which is rooted in Black culture and which she developed to "showcase how awesome we are as Black people, how multifaceted, resilient, and colorful we are." When a troll disrupts SLAY-and an act of real-life violence follows-Kiera must investigate the events without losing herself or compromising her creation. Author Morris clearly understands this community, and her engagement with the topic goes beyond simply exploring race and prejudice online. She dissects the anatomy of gaming communities, unpacking the causes-and consequences-when, as too often, Black women create something the world tries to destroy. Recommended for teens who are gamers (across positionalities and platforms); for those who want to better understand online communities; for those who have ever created something that was misunderstood; and for anyone who hates gaming, because Kiera will have you challenging what it means to be a gamer. Kiera is so many of us Blerds; and Morris has truly captured the holistic experiences of many Black digital users. Kishonna L. Gray November/December 2019 p.92 Copyright 2019 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

PW Reviews 2019 July #2

Morris's not-to-be-missed YA debut explores gaming culture and the diversity of the African diaspora. When black teen Kiera Johnson creates a virtual reality game called SLAY as a safe space for black gamers, she knows she must keep her identity as its developer secret. Her black boyfriend, Malcolm, insists that video games are "a distraction promoted by white society," her parents will disapprove of her embracing certain aspects of black culture, and the students at her predominantly white school just won't understand what a game by and for black people really means. But when the massively popular game's existence is threatened after a dispute results in a player's murder and the media stirs controversy, a new player emerges, forcing Kiera to wager the game's control in a duel to maintain her secret identity and avoid a discrimination lawsuit. This tightly written novel will offer an eye-opening take for many readers and speak to teens of color who are familiar with the exhaustion of struggling to feel at home in a largely white society. Told from Kiera's point of view with peeks into the minds of other characters, and peppered with easily accessible references to black culture, teens and adults alike will race through every page, relating to the importance of online friends, sharing Kiera's desire to make the world a better place, and discovering that blackness is impossible to define. Ages 12–up. Agent: Quressa Robinson, the Nelson Literary Agency. (Sept.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.